HOWELL – Members of the Howell Township Board of Education along with district supervisors recently held its Semi-Annual Public Hearing on Violence and Vandalism, and Harassment/Intimidation and Bullying Report.
This presentation discussed standardized test results along with a number of cases reported on violence and bullying.
Director of Pupil Services Dorothea Fernandez started off the presentation with the reports on schools’ grades. The self-assessment summary report is determined by eight core elements and can receive a score of up to 78. Out of the 12 schools, 9 schools received a score of 75 and three schools had a score of 76.
Fernandez then went on to discuss the violence and vandalism report for the district. In New Jersey, the third week in October is School Violence Awareness Week. In Howell, they recognize the Week of Respect, which was from October 3 to 7 this year. They also recognized Red Ribbon Week for drug awareness which was from October 24 to 28.
“During those weeks, they plan out activities to prevent school violence and invite law enforcement personal. We always work closely with our SROs SELO3s (special police personnel) and they continue to be highly involved. These activities included special training on safety for students, drug awareness, bullying awareness,” she said.
Fernandez broke down the number of cases reported from January 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022. During that time there were 41 cases reported in the area of violence, four cases of vandalism, one case in which weapons were involved, three cases of substance abuse, and 11 confirmed cases of harassment, intimidation and bullying.
The next report to present was the standardized testing throughout the schools. Superintendent of Schools Joseph Isola noted that this standardized test was the first test administered since the pandemic.
“For many of our students, it was the first (standardized) test they’ve ever taken,” Isola said. “This cycle of testing had 3rd graders, 4th graders and 5th graders taking the assessment.”
Supervisors in the Language Arts and Mathematics Departments as well as a presenter for the DLM (dynamic learning map) shared the results of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment from the spring of 2022. They also discussed nationwide trends since the pandemic.
“What nationwide trends indicated is that since 2020, pre-pandemic time, students did decrease in both reading and mathematics. They saw significant decreases. The average scores for age 9 declined by five points in reading and seven points in mathematics compared to 2020,” Jane Losinger, Language Arts Literacy Supervisor said. “These are the largest declines that have ever been seen since the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) has been administered.”
Losinger then went on to compare Howell Township School District’s scores to the state’s overall scores.
“For English Language Arts, one thing to point out is that in nearly every grade level, the district had more students at the level 5 exceeding than the state averages, and fewer students in level 1 than state averages,” she said.
For Mathematics, the percentages were very similar to the English Language Arts. For Science, more students were in levels 1 and 2 compared to the state.
After the presentation, Superintendent Isola explained how the pandemic took a toll on students and plan to continue working on their performance.
“We’re way ahead about keeping the community and board informed on our progress. While these were tough testing environments, we need to do better for our kids. I’m extremely confident that our focus will support staff in making sure kids are performing where we are used to seeing them perform,” Isola said. “We talk about data, but it’s critically important to remember they represent children and their future. It’s not about getting test scores up, it’s about getting students better prepared for success.”